Slim Chances of Albanian Diaspora to Cast Ballots in April 25 Parliamentary Elections

As the deadline to compile the register of diaspora voters expires on March 5 next, Albania seems to head towards failure of ensuring the right to vote of about 1.2 million compatriots living abroad.
Changes to the electoral code approved in July last year as part of a wider agreement between the parties foresaw giving Albanians living abroad the right to vote in elections without having to travel back home. But delays in the adoption of various bylaws and the failure to create a register of voters in the diaspora mean this is unlikely to be realized.
The Minister of Diaspora, Pandeli Majko does not think so as he said in an interview on a local TV on Friday that this issue is stalled by politics blaming the CEC. "The bylaws are a task that the CEC must perform," said Majko. According to him, no responsibility should be sought for why the addresses of citizens in the countries where they live are not registered, but he does not leave without underlining the reluctance of the DP not to agree to their vote.
"I think the issue of responsibility should not be linked to the right to vote. There is a withdrawal on the part of the opposition with the idea that there is a lack of guarantees here. There is no lack of guarantee," said Majko.
The government insists on their vote and is therefore ready to accept any way of voting that the DP will propose.
"We are ready to accept any kind of option coming from the Democratic Party on this issue," said Majko.
The Election Commissioner at the Central Election Commission, Ilirjan Celibashi, on Thursday admitted the process had hit snags.
“Regarding voting from abroad, unfortunately the process continues to be still without a concrete result,” he said, adding that in theory there is still a chance for another 3,400 Albanians living outside Albania – and who have registered with a government portal declaring their permanent residence – to vote.
Under the electoral code, Albanians registered as permanent resident outside the country have a right to vote in parliamentary elections.
The criterion is registration of permanent residence in the National Registry of Civil Status and to request external voting documentation from the Central Election Commission.
According the Institute of Statistics in 2020, about 1.68 million Albanians live abroad, about 37 per cent of Albanians in total.
Of that 1.68 million, around 1.2 million could have the right to vote.
Around 3.6 million registered voters in the country will choose the 140-seat parliament on April 25. /argumentum.al